Deadfellaz, Betty, Discusses NFTs With ‘Adam Bomb Squad’ Podcast

Episode three of the first season of BOMB TALK highlighted women-led projects in the NFT space  Deadfellaz. The managing editor of “The Hundreds,” sat down with Betty, co-founder of Deadfellaz.

DUKE LONDON: The last time our fans heard from you was like episode three of BOMB TALK, right at the beginning when Deadfellaz was still fairly new. But things have been crazy since then and the project has skyrocketed. How are you doing?
BETTY: Great, really great. Things are moving 100 miles an hour but we’re always kind of two steps ahead. So yeah, it’s fun. Very busy but really fun.

Deadfellaz is so unique and the art is so fun. You created the project with your partner Psych, who has been a digital artist forever, right? How did this come about, what sparked the idea? And had you both been into NFTs for a while before?
It was last January, and his art collective Depth Core he’s been in for like 16 years, maybe between 11 and 16, I can’t remember I forget… [Laughs] And some of the artists in there were into NFTs and introduced him to it, told him to check it out. It was really cool and they were in there and already selling their work. We were in a pretty tough spot at the time, so it just felt like a really amazing opportunity to be creative again. Because we like the clients that we have had for the agency, super amazing and we’re so grateful to have those clients, but it’s just so corporate and constrained creatively, you know? Not much freedom and we were kind of stuck in that grind, then with the pandemic and the bushfires and God knows what else. It was just kind of depressing. And then NFTs presented an opportunity to work outside of that so I thought it was the best thing in the world but I was a little bit intimidated because of the male-centric vibe. So I stepped back and just looked for a while he started releasing his art, and he got quite a lot of attention straight away so people started asking him to do art on their projects and I was like, “You know, we do this. We are good at this. This is what we do. So let’s just do it ourselves.” And the idea for Deadfellaz just came really quickly because we are both horror fans. And we had been speaking around that time about the cultural phenomenon around zombies and how it’s just been kind of a thing that flows through pop culture since I guess George Romero brought them from traditional lore. We were just talking about that and how everyone’s really into the spooky and like a little bit macabre stuff like the Goosebumps books and that sort of thing. We love that stuff, so the idea for Deadfellaz was like a brain zap. I was just like, “Deadfellaz are zombies, and this is what they look like.”

They’re amazing. They’re spooky but they’re also really funny and I love them. A lot of these NFT projects people have, there might be 5,000 or 10,000, whatever, but so many of them all look the same. But with Deadfellaz, it feels like so many different characters and so many different personalities. And there are boys and there are girls, and it’s just there’s a little bit of something for everybody. Was that something you guys consciously wanted to focus on with this project?
Yeah, it was really a driving factor. Because I had obviously been lurking for a long time, I was well aware of all the projects coming out. And I didn’t see anything that was representative of me. I didn’t see anything that I wanted to use as my profile picture or that I felt I could identify with. And that’s not to say those projects are bad. It’s just, I just didn’t see myself in them. And I think that’s kind of the point, especially when we’re forming digital identities and communities around it. So I thought, well, if I feel that way, then a lot of other people feel that way. I didn’t really see any gender diversity at all outside of stereotypes, so we wanted to just have all of these traits, and not genders. If you look at fashion throughout time and especially leaning towards pop culture, queer culture, and streetwear, gender doesn’t really come into it too much. It’s more just creative expression. So we wanted the traits to reflect that. You can have this combination of all of these different traits, and it’s just whoever you want to be. And it worked out really well because that’s kind of what’s happened, which is great.

That’s amazing. And while people who minted them were probably really excited upon reveal, I’m sure to an even greater extent, people have embraced the secondary market and found something that truly represents them specifically. What’s the Discord been like, with people excited to discover something that feels like it was made for them?

That’s been an amazing thing. It’s fostered this really welcoming, vibrant community that I just don’t see in lots of other places. The general vibe of the community, and around the collection, is that you’re accepted no matter who you are, what gender you identify with, where you’re from. And I think it helps that I’m leading the project as a woman. It’s safe to be yourself in that space because I’ve made it safe and given permission for it if that makes sense. There are a lot of queer people in the community and with other projects, you don’t know if you can be yourself going into certain spaces. So, we’re just making sure that the environment is welcoming and safe. Deadfellaz gives permission to our people to be themselves.

And as a result of that, you’ve probably inspired a lot of the people who maybe hadn’t felt safe to do so before to create collections of their own or explore their own art in this world. Have you connected with a lot of other projects run by women or heard of any fans in the Deadfellaz Discord that have gone on to do their own things?
Yeah, loads and loads of people go on to do their own things. And that’s one of the main things that I love so much about this space is I think that we can open doors for each other. The community that gets built around the collection, when you’re in that community, all of a sudden you have all of these supportive people. And maybe you didn’t have that before. And that can help launch what you’re doing and make you feel more confident in your own creativity. We’ve been focused on really uplifting creatives from the start and we’ve been collaborating with artists we hire from our community who have shown how incredibly skilled they are. It’s been hard to say no. And in terms of connecting with other women, most of the projects that have come after us, I’ve spoken directly with the founders and they’re amazing people, and we know each other and I’m rooting for them. And they’re rooting for me, it’s just a really supportive environment. It feels amazing because I don’t know whether we’re the inspiration for people to release inclusive projects, but I think it’s something that a lot of people want to do anyway. And it’s so nice to see that happening. After we launched, then Doodles launched, and the way that they’ve tackled gender in their collection, it’s just kind of bolstered what we’re doing too and it’s just really great. That’s the norm now. It’s just great to see.

Hopefully, these conversations will spark more ideas and more women to jump into the space and be heard. And as your project grows, I’m sure there are more and more of these conversations. Deadfellaz has experienced tremendous growth over the past couple of months. What’s that been like, just from the perspective of this getting bigger than you may have ever expected?
It’s been an adjustment, honestly. It’s been an exciting adjustment, but it’s definitely been an adjustment. From living in stress trying to make things work financially and otherwise prior to this, it’s kind of hard to snap out of that, being completely launched in the other direction. But being so confident about where we’re going and having a clear vision and being surrounded by so many talented and supportive people in the industry as well, I know full well that they want me to succeed the same way I want them to succeed. So I feel really confident going forward and the growth isn’t so intimidating anymore. I’m kind of adjusted to the speed. Were quite adaptive.

What’s next for Deadfellaz? Obviously, you have the collaboration with us dropping next. And maybe I’m looking for a little alpha here but what do you and your team have up your sleeves next?
It’s hard to pinpoint that because it’s so expansive. We are reaching into all corners of media and culture. At the same time, we have teams working on everything you can imagine. Behind the scenes, there are almost 30 people and they’re working every day. It’s really really exciting. And I’m really excited to release things that we’ve been working on and we’re choosing to build more in the open. Shortly, we’ve got a new website launching this week, or in the next couple of days. And with that, we’re having dev blogs on there so that all of our different teams can kind of update people with what they’re working on. So it looks like you can go to the workshop window and have a look and see what’s going on, you know? I just think it adds a bit of a layer of transparency, and it helps with the speed of the space, you know, because we can’t realistically build to the same speed of this space for a long time, it’s just not sustainable. So being able to give people access to that progress continuously, I think is going to be a great thing.

One thing we’ve seen, as much as people get excited about something new coming out, they get almost equally excited about getting to peek behind the curtain and see the process a little bit.
Totally. That’s it. So it’s like, we can have these things continuously growing. I mean, we can still have surprises that are not hinted at or anything, and we always will because it’s fun. I enjoy that. But yeah, I think it’s going to be a nice thing for people.

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